NBA Playoff Predictions: Heat vs. 76ers and 5 Matchups Guaranteed to Be Sweeps
It is hard to believe that the playoffs are nearly upon us, as teams and their fans start to ponder, now more than ever, where they will wind up in the playoff race.
With about 20 games left in the regular season and with teams making that one last final push to get the best seed they can, here are six matchups that should be quick and easy for the higher seed if they were to happen.
Miami Heat Vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Marc Serota/Getty Images
What Doug Collins has done in Philadelphia is irrefutably impressive, considering they have no shot-blocking whatsoever and a tendency to make head-scratching turnovers (seen as recently as last night against Golden State).
The Sixers are definitely a team improving and one that now knows its strength and relishes in its fast-tempo “push the ball” style that gives some of the more methodical, half-court defenses fits.
However, the Miami Heat are basically the Sixers on steroids. They are a super athletic, out-of-the-gym jumping team that is simply too good and too fast for the young and inexperienced Sixers.
Yes, I am aware that the media is trying to make the Miami Heat the worst mega-team failure since the 04’ Lakers due to their current losing streak, but we are talking about a first-round matchup here.
As said, I love what Philly is doing and I think they are a good, shot-blocking center away from being taken very seriously, but as of right now, if the Heat and Sixers were to meet in the playoffs, the Heat would run circles around them.
Boston Celtics Vs. Indiana Pacers
The Celtics certainly got weaker with the Kendrick Perkins trade that sent shockwaves around the league right before the trade deadline.
I get it from the Celtics' perspective—they were not confident in their chances of signing Perk to an extension—but with a team built so well and so ready to go back to the NBA Finals and snatch their trophy, it seems rather cruel to strip a beast of its claws. That is what Perk was to that team.
Regardless of all this, the C’s will still be able to easily sweep the Pacers if the two teams clash in the playoffs this year.
Roy Hibbert might give the softer, non-defensive minded Nenad Krstic some trouble in the post, but the Pacers simply do not have the playoff experience or command of their game plan quite like the Celtics.
If these two meet in the playoffs, the best matchup will undoubtedly be the crafty Paul Pierce vs. the lethal Danny Granger.
My money is on “The Truth.”
San Antonio Spurs Vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Oh my goodness. The San Antonio Spurs actually got blown out by a good team. The end of the world is near and the Los Angeles Lakers are going to the NBA Finals yet again! It is official!
All sarcasm aside, yes, the Spurs faltered badly on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers at home, but let’s be honest, sometimes you need a swift kick in the butt like that to knock you off your mountain—in this case, the mountain being a 30-point thrashing of the Miami Heat.
The Spurs are still the best team in basketball, and have proven to be the most consistent squad this year.
The Grizzlies have remained consistently average for close to a decade now, sometimes falling into the lottery, other times sneaking into the playoffs only to be dismissed after the first round.
The Spurs and Grizz met before in 2004 in the first round of the playoffs, and it was not pretty, as San Antonio easily swept aside the then clean-shaven Pau Gasol and his squad.
Since then, the Grizzlies have gotten a little more athletic and certainly more balanced, but if they run into the Spurs in the first round, experience and smarts will be the defining traits that make this a quick series.
Los Angeles Lakers Vs. Phoenix Suns
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Suns have their work cut out for them if they hope to make the playoffs this year, which is absurd to think about considering that they have been a mainstay in the playoffs for the last eight years or so.
Even if Phoenix somehow sneaks into the playoff picture and knocks Memphis out of the frame and gets a matchup with L.A., the Suns are not going to go far.
Considering that they were finished in six games in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers last year, with Amar’e Stoudemire no less, let’s just go ahead and say that they do not match up well against the Lakers at all.
Where the Lakers have defense and length, the Suns have guys who like to jack up threes and stay away from the post at all costs (Marcin Gortat is pretty much the only exception).
Sure, Steve Nash is a terrific player, but this is the least amount of talent he has played with in quite some time (although, how can you not love Grant Hill still balling it up even at the age of 38?).
This is a shame, because he definitely deserves better considering how much he has accomplished in his storied career.
Los Angeles Lakers Vs. New Orleans Hornets
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
These are the Lakers that everybody has waited to see all season long.
A ravaging beast of a defensive team, whose long arms and patience on offense has teams shaking in their boots currently.
The team still has some issues, that being Derek Fisher’s second year of horrendous shooting from the field, as well as the ever present threat of Andrew Bynum getting sidelined for a few weeks here and there.
When they are healthy and focused, the Spurs may be the only team in the West that can give them a serious scare. Otherwise, it’s not even close.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, whose hot start to the season has been long forgotten, they will be swept aside quickly if they run into the Lake-Show in the playoffs.
The Hornets are an intriguing squad but one that lacks consistency, as well as the fact that Pau Gasol’s length will undoubtedly trouble many of David West’s mid-range J’s.
Chicago Bulls Vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
As they showed once again, the Chicago Bulls are a legitimate title contender whose only real competition is the Boston Celtics.
No offense to the Miami Heat, but the Bulls are officially in your heads.
The Bulls are clearly on a mission this year, and the driving force remains the potential MVP of the NBA in Derrick Rose, who has surpassed expectations and proven to be the best point guard in the league.
The Bucks are sort of a mess right now.
Andrew Bogut keeps getting hurt, Brandon Jennings has cringe-worthy shooting percentages and Corey Maggette’s bad contract is on everybody’s minds first—not his play.
The Bulls defensively will put the Bucks to sleep, considering the fact that the Bucks have a tough time generating much offense, let alone a bulky guard to bother the ridiculously athletic Rose at the other end.